Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Challenging the Normalization of Violence during Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Written by Alejandra Aguilar, California Partnership to End Domestic Violence
Gender pronouns: She, Her, Hers
Over the past few years, there has been so much energy across our country on raising awareness about the prevalence of gender-based violence. Survivor-led movements like #WhyIStayed, #MeToo, and Time’s Up have done so much to bring attention to the critical topics we have seen all over our screens—abuse in relationships, sexual violence, and the social inequities that fuel them. During Domestic Violence Awareness Month and year-round, survivors want people to not only listen to their experiences, but also take action in our everyday lives to prevent further violence. Talking about it is not enough. We have so much more work to do!
As many people have experienced, and as many of us have seen throughout our spaces at work, and in our friendships and families, there are very real reasons why a large number of individuals choose to not disclose intimate partner violence or sexual assault: fear of being re-traumatized and ridiculed, having their experiences minimized, being blamed and humiliated… The list goes on. We know the reasons. We talk about them every day. And yet, we cannot stop talking! Now more than ever as more folks are looking for opportunities to engage!

In our Domestic Violence Awareness Month Campaign, Growing the Seeds of Healing and Justice, survivors across California are expressing how they could feel more supported, what changes need to be made in communities to make healing & justice more accessible, and their hopes for the future. Here are some of their powerful responses to our survey questions—which invite us to take action:
Q: How can schools, workplaces religious institutions, etc., create welcoming environments for lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, and asexual survivors, and how would this work to prevent abusive tactics?
A: "Say out loud you are here for us. Say out loud that you welcome us. Say out loud that you need to do more training. Say out loud that you do not tolerate discrimination. Maybe others will be inspired by your bravery."
Q: What would you need from your friends, family, and community to feel safer and cared for?
A: “A nonjudgmental response to decision making about how to heal. Take action when I say I am not well. Offer to go for a walk, drive, or just sit in silence so I am reminded that I am not alone.”—Tina Rodriguez
Q: How do we move toward a California free from domestic violence?
A: “Begin at the pre-school level and teach healthy relationships, respect for individual sovereignty, and accountability for behaviors; and keep teaching through high school.”
Q: Answered by Native and immigrant survivors, as well as survivors of color: How do support systems need to be improved to meet your needs?
A: "Strengthen the support system. Legislate that DV victims be waived from deportation if an abuser reports to ICE or the court. Expedite the Violence Against Women Act processing time for victims to be able to find a job to support their family."
To determine how we engage others in the prevention of violence, we must deeply reflect upon guidance from survivors in our actions. But how can we get started? Answering these questions for yourself—on a regular basis—can help.
  • How can I hold myself accountable?
  • How can I share ideas with others about ways in which they can stand up against violence?
  • How do I challenge the norms that perpetuate the violence?  
This is going to take all of us—and each of us can become self-aware of the spaces in which we hold privilege and use it to stand up, speak out, and do something. Use the Oppression and Privilege Self-Assessment Tool that was shared in our blog post Intersectionality of Privilege, Oppression, and Tactics of Abuse, and consider the following questions:
·         As a parent or teacher, do you have access to spaces in which you can engage youth and adults in discussions around respect, equality, consent and what they look like?
·         Do you have spaces around you where you can add media and images that encourage healthy relationship behaviors and bystander intervention skills?
·         Have you emailed or called your elected official, encouraging them to promote laws that foster equality and liberation for marginalized groups?
·         Using language and examples that support survivors and challenge these norms: “They didn’t deserve it. No one does.” “The person who chose to rape caused the rape. Nothing else.” “Only a Yes is a Yes. Anything else is a No.”
How will YOU hold yourself accountable?
How can you INVITE OTHERS to engage in challenging the normalization of violence?
We encourage you to read and share the Piktochart that was created by the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Violence. It’s a great way to start the conversation with others. Let me know how it goes by getting in touch with me at alejandra@cpedv.org. I’d love to hear back from you.
If you’re a survivor reading this, this is your movement—and we welcome you to get involved. We would be honored to have you join our coalition as a member. Please also explore the resources below:
·         Trans Lifeline
·         The GLBT Talkline
The information contained in this blog is for general information purposes only, and CalVCB makes no representations of any kind regarding completeness or accuracy or security of the links within the blog. All opinions expressed in the blogs are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of CalVCB.